FAKE NEWS

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Introduction


Fake news is false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke this is a big problem because people are led to believe one thing, when in reality it is false information. People believe the fake news and then spread false information around using social media and other communication mediums. The purpose of the investigation was to educate people about fake news and teach them key factors to recognize fake news so that we can try to decrease the numbers of victims of fake news.

Focus question


How can I educate and inform my community and my fellow learners about fake news and teach them ways to identify it in order to ensure that they are not victims of fake news?

Reasons


"Fake news" is defined as news stories that are false: the story itself is fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes. Sometimes these stories may be propaganda that is intentionally designed to mislead the reader, or may be designed as "clickbait" written for economic incentives because the writer profits from the number of people who view his material. Fake news stories is spread the easiest via social media, because they are so easily and quickly shared online (University of Michigan Library, 2018). Fake news is spreading via the internet and social media, because they have made it very easy for anyone to publish content on a website, blog or social media profile and reach a lot of people. With so many people now getting news from social media sites, many content creators/publishers have used this to their advantage. Fake news can be a profitable business, gaining large sums of advertising for publishers who create and publish stories that go viral. The more clicks a story gets, the more money online publishers make through advertising income and for many publisher's social media is an ideal platform to share content and drive web traffic (webwise.ie, 2017).

Types of fake news


  • Satire or parody: no intention to cause harm but has potential to fool
  • Misleading content: misleading use of information to frame an issue or individual
  • Imposter content: when genuine sources are impersonated
  • Fabricated content: new content I all false, designed to deceive and do harm
  • False connection: when headlines, visuals or captions don't support the content
  • False context: when genuine content is shared with false contextual information
  • Manipulated content: when genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive
(University of Michigan Library, 2018)

Challenges


  • Media: The media suffers the most because of pressure for digital transformation and the decline in income from hard copy sales and advertising. The internet's barriers for new media has been lowered a lot and by doing that it has given individuals the power to say what they want whether it is true or not. Individuals have the power to say exactly what they think or feel about a situation an even make up stories in order to mislead certain groups of people. This lead to a shift in costumers reading habits, people moved from hard copies to digital format or online. This leaves printing companies at risk because a lot less people are interested in hard copies and it leaves organizations and other companies very pressures to adapt and change to technology
  • Social networks Social networks have allowed people to communicate much faster greater speed and on a much wider scale than ever before, while publishing platforms have enabled anyone to easily create websites that contain information from self-published content, but also for misinformation. Social-media users tend to develop groups with people who share their interests which makes people a lot more confident online because they have a group that supports their point of view. This leads to a lot more misinformation.
  • Trust: People are losing their trust because of fake news and that is raising our generation to be more skeptical about everything and second guess the information that is given to us daily. If people can learn to recognize fake news they would stop spreading it and then people would slowly but surely start trusting more, including trust in news stories.
(European People's Party, 2017)

Solutions


Google and Facebook have announced new ways (solutions) to fight fake news with the releasing of reporting and flagging tools. Media organizations also created fact checking sites e.g.: BBC. People need to learn how to evaluate information and realize whether it is true or not. It is important to develop the skill critical thinking. Children need to develop critical thinking from an early age. This is a key skill for young people to develop as they grow up. (webwise.ie, 2017).

The use of fact checking sites to ensure whether information (news) is true or not is also a solution. Examples of trustworthy fact check sites is: FactCheck.Org, Michigan Truth Squad, Politifact.com, Project Vote Smart and Snopes.com (University of Michigan Library, 2018).

Another solution to the problem, which is fake news, is by learning how to spot fake news (European People's Party, 2017):
  • Check the source of the story and whether you recognize the website. Ensure that it is a reliable source. If you are unfamiliar with the site, look in the about section or find out more information about the author.
  • Check the entire article, many fake news stories use shocking headlines to grab your attention. Often the headlines of fake news stories are in all caps and use exclamation points.
  • Ensure that other trustworthy media sites are reporting on the story. Check whether there are any sources in the story and if there is ensure that the sources are trustworthy or if they actually exist.
  • Fake news stories often contain incorrect dates or altered timelines. Check the date the article was published and how old it is; it will tell you whether the information is still relevant.
  • Check your biases and whether your own views or beliefs are affecting your judgement of a news article.
  • Satirical sites are popular online and sometimes it is not always clear whether a story is just a joke or parody. So check whether the website is known for satire or creating funny stories or not.
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© Chané van der Merwe Gr12